malfeasance Law Evildoing, illegal action; an illegal act; spec official misconduct by a public servant.
The legal distinction is this: the former is an improper act which might be legally done; the latter is an act which the party had no right to do legally or contractually.
It seems clear that Carla J. Martin, an attorney for the Transportation Security Administration assisting in the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, is guilty of the latter. She was busily coaching seven witnesses from the FAA, including emailing them trial transcripts. It is possible that prosecutor David Novak, who had a joint telephone conversation with two witnesses, is guilty as well. The prosecution also seems to have prevented three potential defense witnesses from contacting attorneys for the defense or vice-versa.
It can't be overstated: prosecutorial malfeasance ranks at the very top of the worst abuses of our system of government. This may not be as stomach-churning as the physical and psychological abuse of prisoners, nor as extraordinary as Operation Infinite Incarceration, but it is on par with those. This is a death penalty case.
[Having trouble keeping up with our track record prosecuting terror suspects? This LA Times article will help.]
Of course with this administration that's barely page three news. Is somebody keeping a master list? Remember that practically the first order of business with these guys was to plant phony stories of shocking White House vandalism with Lloyd Grove and Andrea Mitchell, et. al.? Remember that the story didn't hold up to ordinary questioning, let alone demands for anything like proof, yet it persisted for nearly three months? Remember that at that point George W. Bush pronounced the matter closed--not apologized, not vowed to get to the bottom of it, not sacked Ari Fleischer before going on teevee to lecture his own administration that he really meant it about changing the tone in Washington--and was hailed for his statesman-like, Solomonic wisdom? At this point that kinda seems like memories of your high school prom, don't it?
That, of course, is to say nothing of how they got there in the first place, of the surreal anti-Gore campaign or Clinton Scandals, Inc., of Lee Atwater and Willie Horton, of Iran Contra, the looting of the S&Ls, and the fairy tale-slash-floating crap game that was the Reagan administration. Nor, moving forward, have we touched on Dick Cheney gathering his oil bidness pals together to set national energy policy, of the hands off the Middle East and stop negotiating with North Korea foreign policy, of six weeks on the "ranch", Bin Laden Determined To Attack US, and My Pet Goat. And that's the fucking prelude to these guys. Did I mention the party that took control of the House in 1994 by promising to end corruption in Washington? How'd that work out? I can barely juggle five, and that not for long.
Bin Laden Determined To Attack US! The National Security Advisor to the President of the United States took the witness stand and defended treating that piece of paper like a report on soil erosion, and she's now the Secretary of State rather than Prisoner # 0463107.
And this is the administration which in the last election was put over the top by moral values voters.
One of the tenets of conservatism--the real kind, not the present day sort that has to be surrounded by quotes--is the imperfectibility of humankind. Well, maybe it's a tenet, maybe it's just an old ad campaign. Those things stick with you; I can still sing the Pepsodint song, or "All Blatz is draft-brewed, that's why you'll hear/ Blatz is Milwaukee's finest beer." In the same way you might remember "The Law of Unintended Consequences," something which only works under Democratic administrations. So where's the right punditocracy, exactly, as their clear vision piles up around our ears? The tsk-tsking over Abramoff and DeLay lasted about as long as it did in the House. A few of them have recently discovered that the President, now as worthless to them as he's been to the country for five years, is a Big Spender. Plenty of outrage when it comes to Harriet Miers or the Dubai deal, the political equivalent of criticizing the posture of a man exposing himself to a schoolyard full of children. Where, even, is the sense that this is their mess? The Moussaoui shenanigans would have resulted in the death penalty being thrown out, at minimum, in a less-politically-charged case. It would have ended a trial if he'd had one. So here's what the three attorneys at the World's Greatest Blog had to say about it:
To be fair, there was a nice rundown on the literature on Leopold and Loeb. Those things don't just write themselves.